This Saturday, August 13, a memorial service for Thomas Surdyke will be held at Coopers Beach in Southampton.
Surdyke, an 18-year-old student of the West Point military academy who had just finished his plebe year (a name used by the academy for students’ first years), was vacationing with a fellow cadet in Southampton on June 24. While swimming with a new friend they met that day at the beach, the pair were caught in a riptide and pushed out to sea. The other cadet got help, gaining the aid of two beachgoers with surfboards to go out and help Surdyke. Surdyke lifted the drowning individual—who remains unknown—onto the surfboard and was pushed further out, where he drowned.
His body was rescued from the water and he was rushed to Stony Brook Hospital, where en route his heart stopped beating three times. For the next four days, he would remain on life support until his passing on June 28.
Surdyke would have turned 19 on July 4.
His organs were donated to those in need, continuing to help and serve in death as he did in life.
On his birthday, Surdyke was laid permanently to rest on the grounds of the West Point academy, attended by friends and fellow cadets.
Surdyke will be honored for his heroics one last time at Coopers Beach in Southampton, the site of his last act of bravery and selflessness. The ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. and will last an hour, ending at dusk with a candlelight vigil and a lighting of floating lanterns by Surdyke’s parents, Tim and Janice, who are coming up from St. Louis, Missouri.
A bus will arrive from West Point full of cadets from Surdyke’s regiment, led by chaplain Major Luis Garayua, who will deliver a prayer in Surdyke’s honor. He will be accompanied by the West Point Pipes and Drums Team.
Surdyke will forever be honored on a bronze plaque placed at the foot of the flagpole at Coopers Beach, as donated by the West Point Parents Club of Long Island.
“The whole town has been extremely cooperative,” says Paul Grieco, President of the West Point Parents Club of Long Island, “the town board, everyone. We’re all very appreciative.”